Optically monitoring voltage in neurons by photo-induced electron transfer through molecular wires.

Department of Pharmacology, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 9.81). 02/2012; 109(6):2114-9.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Fluorescence imaging is an attractive method for monitoring neuronal activity. A key challenge for optically monitoring voltage is development of sensors that can give large and fast responses to changes in transmembrane potential. We now present fluorescent sensors that detect voltage changes in neurons by modulation of photo-induced electron transfer (PeT) from an electron donor through a synthetic molecular wire to a fluorophore. These dyes give bigger responses to voltage than electrochromic dyes, yet have much faster kinetics and much less added capacitance than existing sensors based on hydrophobic anions or voltage-sensitive ion channels. These features enable single-trial detection of synaptic and action potentials in cultured hippocampal neurons and intact leech ganglia. Voltage-dependent PeT should be amenable to much further optimization, but the existing probes are already valuable indicators of neuronal activity.

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